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At Uttar Pradesh rally, PM Modi mocks Rahul Gandhi’s ‘unwanted hug’

PM Narendra Modi tied Rahul Gandhi's gesture to the absence of reason for the no-confidence motion brought against his National Democratic Alliance government.

india Updated: Jul 21, 2018 23:20 IST
Manish Chandra Pandey
Manish Chandra Pandey
Hindustan Times, Shahjahanpur
Modi rally,Modi in Shajahanpur,BJP rally
UIttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath and other BJP leaders listen to Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the Shahjahanapur rally on Saturday. (Video grab)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday took a swipe at the “unwanted hug” he received from Congress president Rahul Gandhi in Parliament on Friday, tying the gesture to the absence of reason for the no-confidence motion brought against his National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government.

“We asked the reason for their no-confidence motion, but when they failed to give it, they ended up giving an unwanted hug,” Modi said at a farmers’ rally in Uttar Pradesh’s Shahjahanpur, referring to the embrace he received during the debate on the no-confidence motion in the Lok Sabha.

Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led NDA won the vote, initiated by estranged BJP ally Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and backed by most opposition parties, with a nearly three-fourths majority after an intense debate. Gandhi led the opposition’s charge in the debate with a blistering attack on the Modi government, and after ending his speech, walked up to Modi and hugged him.

Modi used the Hindi phrase ‘gale pad gaye’ to describe Gandhi’s gesture. The phrase loosely translates into English as thrusting an unwanted liability on someone.

Before Modi, chief minister Yogi Adityanath, Uttar Pradesh minister Suresh Khanna and UP BJP chief Mahendra Nath Pandey too used the same ‘gale pad gaye’ phrase to mock the Congress chief. Adityanath described Gandhi as ‘pappu’ (young boy).

Modi said the coming together of several opposition parties against the BJP showed they were running after the prime minister’s post. He used a Hindi expression that means the lotus, which is the BJP’s election symbol, blooms in marshy land.

“If one dal (party) is added to another dal, then it becomes daldal (marshy land), which is favourable for the lotus to blossom,” he said.

Modi told the crowd, mostly comprising farmers from nine districts adjoining Shahjahanpur, UP’s biggest grain market, about farmer-centric initiatives taken by his government at the centre and the Yogi Adityanath government in Lucknow.

In his nearly 45-minutes-long speech, Modi referred to the increase in the minimum support price of various crops effected by his government, the revival of fertiliser factories, a decision to promote neem-coated urea to prevent black-marketing, revival of various irrigation and drip irrigation schemes, crop loan waiver and the decision to clear the dues of sugarcane farmers.

The sugarcane dues were considered a big factor in BJP’s embarrassing loss in the by-polls for the Kairana Lok Sabha and Noorpur assembly seat in western UP in May. Since then, the Modi government has announced a huge Rs 8,000 crore package for sugarcane farmers and increased the minimum support price for sugarcane too.

“We are clearing up the mess of the previous governments. The dues of cane farmers are being cleared. Our decision to increase the MSP of 14 crops is unprecedented. Those who are shedding crocodile tears for farmers too could have done it but they didn’t do it,” he said.

He also said that for the first time the government had decided to allow mills to produce ethanol from molasses and sugarcane juice from December 1.

Modi addressed the rally in Shahjahanpur, a prominent cane-growing district in Uttar Pradesh, which sends 80 MPs to the Lok Sabha, after reaching out to voters in Azamgarh, Mirzapur and Varanasi last week.

This was his third visit to the state in less than a month. Ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, Modi sought to connect with ‘garib, peedit, shoshit aur vanchit’ (the poor, the suffering, the victimised and the deprived) who had voted for his party in huge numbers in the 2014 Lok Sabha and 2017 UP polls. He promised power for all by 2019, and slammed opposition parties for keeping 40 million families in the dark.

Former Union minister and Shahjahanpur leader from the Congress, Jitin Prasada, said Modi’s speech was “full of rhetoric”.

“Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi had visited Shahjahanpur in September 1989 and gave a Rs 700 crore fertiliser plant that still generates employment and revenue but in today’s Prime Minister Modi’s visit, not one paisa has been given to the region. Only talk of how much welfare for the farmers has been done on paper,” he said. “The Modi government has failed in addressing the farmers’ distress,” he added.

(With inputs from HT Correspondent in New Delhi)

First Published: Jul 21, 2018 14:32 IST